Cognitive capabilities peak at 22 – for everybody?


In 2010, the New York Academy of Scientists hosted a forward looking conference, Therapeutics for Cognitive Aging, which outlined how people age cognitively and interventions that may be able to prevent cognitive decline. The keynote speech, What is Cognitive Aging?, was made by Dr. Timothy Salthouse, from the University of Virginia. Dr. Salthouse will appear on a Brain Booster teleconference to be scheduled this fall. However, it’s important not to wait until Dr. Salthouse appears to start your cognitive aging intervention.

One of Dr. Salthouse’s key findings  in an excellent paper “When Does age-related Cognitive Decline Begin, ”  is that brain aging begins much sooner than most people think. On average, peak performance occurs at age 22, and by the ripe old age of 28, signs of cognitive decline begin to show up in test scores. By 38, signs of memory loss also begin to show up.  On some people, this early decline may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. On others it is a sign of slowly increasing dementia that never fully develops into Alzheimer’s pathology.

Very few are able to maintain or improve their thinking capabilities as they get older. An exception may be the brain super agers that we recently discussed with Dr. Emily Rogalski, who is featured in this blog:  Becoming a Brain SuperAger.

We hope to make Brain Superagers the norm on livingthecrway.

Mental Decline isn’t usually detected before it’s significant

Unless you regularly push your mental capabilities to their peak, you may not notice mental decline until later in life. This is the reason brain booster members are encouraged to find one or two brain training exercises that they perform at their max.  This is your mental performance gauge — something you use to improve brain function, but also to judge what  lifestyle factors improve your cognitive capabilities.

All LivingTheCRWay members will be heartened to learn that many lifestyle factors that can cause cognitive decline are countered by the CR Way lifesyle: Chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, reduced physical activity, poor diet and social isolation (one of the reasons why livingthecrway has the Friends forum, live teleconferences and live events!) are cited in the Therapeutics for cognitive Aging paper.

Dale Bredesen, Alzheimer’s Expert

Another important teleconference, set for October 23 and open to all supporting members, focuses on the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. The guest expert, Dr. Dale Bredesen, whom we’ve spoken with at length about the CR Way approach to a better brain. Our dialogue with Dr. Bredesen led to updates in the livingthecrway  Getting Smarter section.

Consider attentional processing, the ability to focus, which declines with age. We advocate meditation and brain training to improve attentional processing capabilities. Several new studies support this:

Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation

van den Hurk PA, Giommi F, Gielen SC, Speckens AE, Barendregt HP.

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Colchester). 2010 Jun;63(6):1168-80

The influence of perceptual training on working memory in older adults.

PLoS One. 2010 Jul 14;5(7):e11537. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011537.

Berry AS, Zanto TP, Clapp WC, Hardy JL, Delahunt PB, Mahncke HW, Gazzaley A.


Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering

Michael D. Mrazek, Michael S. Franklin, Dawa Tarchin Phillips, Benjamin Baird, Jonathan W. Schooler.

University of California, Santa Barbara

PMID: 23538911 [PubMed – in process]

There is so much new information to share that we will hold a Brain Booster teleconference to discuss it. Also please watch the livingthecrway Getting Smarter forum for more posts about cognitive aging and what can be done to prevent or reverse it. Become a free Healthy Start member to access CR Way forums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* :

* :

* :